Syrian Immigration Sparks State-Wide Debate

By Anton Mikolowski

The Tower (Grosse Pointe, Michigan)

With Canada opening its arms to the first of 25,000 refugees and a number of American states denying them, the question will soon come to where Michigan stands on the issue.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Gov. Rick Snyder seems to be leaning towards an acceptance of refugees so long as there is an extensive screening process.

58 percent of residents would support Syrian immigration to Michigan, according to a recent poll.

On a more local level, South students seem to be divided on the issue.

Charlie Cornillie ’17 said the United States, and Michigan in particular, should make a point of accepting Syrian refugees.

“Yes, we should accept (Syrians) as refugees,” Cornille said, “Most arguments against it seem far-fetched at best.”

Cornillie said even if some refugees are terrorists, as those who oppose accepting Syrian refugees argue, terrorists who want to come to America will regardless of a formal refugee program.

“I mean look at the Paris attacks,” Cornillie said, “They say some of the terrorists got in through the refugee program, but most probably got in by other ways.”

While Cornillie thinks Michigan should embrace Syrian immigration, John Meier ’18 is unsure.

“I feel bad, because (Syrians) are dying,” Meier said. “But at the same time I don’t want to be bombed because (we accepted Syrian refugees).”

Meier says he is split and it is a difficult issue to decide because of the many shades of grey surrounding the issue.

AP US History teacher James Cooper said the history of immigration in America is, indeed, surrounded by shades of grey.

“We’re talking about 200 years of American history,” Cooper said. “A lot of people have come in and gone out. There was a period in the 1990s where Albanians came in because we opened up a big Albanian refugee passage to the United States.”

This Albanian diaspora, caused by the hierarchical and economic collapse of the Albanian political regime at the time, resulted in the dispersal of the Albanian people throughout Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States. It also allowed many Albanian families to settle and make new lives locally, Cooper said. “I want to say 20,000 refugees came to America,” Cooper said. “I do know that a lot of the Albanian refugees ended up coming to Grosse Pointe and going to Grosse Pointe South and were wonderful kids.”

Cooper also said the American government has opened its borders to refugees during times of war, including instances of military conflicts in both Korea and Vietnam, which is why it would not be too far-fetched for the government to do the same for Syrian refugees.

Adam Gellert ’17, a North student, sees a mass Syrian migration to America as a danger to both the nation’s structure and its people.

“Syrian refugees should not be admitted into the United States because we, as a nation, should be worrying about the state of our economy and (other problems) plaguing us,” Gellert said via email.

Gellert said he fears what may be brought to the nation if Syrian refugees are let into the country without proper screening.

“We must have caution because we do not know what kind of people we would be letting in and what extremist ideas they may have brought to harm our nation,” Gellert said.

Grosse Pointe has shown diverse and differing opinions such as Cornillie and Gellert, and those undecided, like Meier. However, Cooper’s words still ring true that many incidents and affairs can transpire in 200 years, and only time will tell where the nation and Michigan stand on this matter.

Photo Credit: The Tower 

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (

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